White Balance in the Studio- Creative Effects

November 09, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

White Balance in the Studio- Creative

Photographers will often white balance their images either through the camera or in post production to get the best possible results. The skin colors need to appear natural, clothing and background colors should ideally appear as close as possible to real life- well in most cases.

But, suppose you wanted to be a little creative in your images. The images above were all made with the same camera, with the studio strobe in the same position and same power, and with camera setting the same. Clearly, the results vary between one image to another sometimes dramatically.

So have you thought about using white balance creatively. One example which is fairly common may be that a studio strobe may bleach the skin rendering it a lighter color than natural. One could play with power and distance settings, but why not try a 'cloudy' or even a 'shade' white balance? 

Perhaps you may be shooting a winter scene complete with snow, ice, and other props. You may want to have the scene look a little cooler by shifting the white balance from flash or AWB to Tungsten to deliver that blush appearance.

It is often true that as studio strobes age, the color temperature will often shift sometimes more to a blue tint. Many cameras have the ability to set a color temperature in Kelvin to bring back that fresh out-of-the-box  performance.

Colored Gel photography can be rewarding but also can be very tedious. Finding just the right gel color, the lowest setting on a strobe to avoid blowing out the color and yet avoiding noise, distance to subject, as well as other factors.  Adjusting the color temperature can sometimes get just the right look for an image.

Is automatic white balance the best choice when using strobes, or should you change it to 'flash'. Do you need to create a 'custom white balance' to get just the look that you want?


Obviously, every camera even among the same brand will look just a little different at different white balance settings. Post production color adjustments are relatively easy to do but can also affect your overall workflow. The next time you are looking for a specific look in images (even outdoors), try adjusting the white balance and you may be pleased at the results.



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